Vanishing Northwoods

Northwoods Journal
Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mark worked from home this morning and we were able to hit the road headed north promptly at noon. There was quite a lot of traffic for a Thursday afternoon, lots of campers, so I guess plenty of other people had the same idea we did – to get a jumpstart on the long holiday weekend. We made good time and our only delay was stopping at a few garage sales along M33.

We came in through Pleasant Valley and Elk Valley and when we finally turned into our driveway, the sight that met our eyes broke my heart. They have clear-cut to the very back edge of our property. We have known this was coming for more than a year now, but the stark reality was almost too much to bear. I used to see a solid wall of trees when looking out my kitchen window, now there’s way too much daylight.

Too much daylight coming through the trees. :(

Too much daylight coming through the trees. 😦

In comparison, this is last September.  Not a good photo (I was still using my Kodak then), but it gives you an idea of the difference in view.

Last year - more trees.

Last year – more trees.

It put both us of in a terrible mood and was not a good way to start off our weekend. After that it seemed like one small thing after another went “wrong”, adding to our stress. We had forgotten to set up our various mousetraps before we left last time and certainly “while the beagles were away, the mice did play” and I had plenty of messes to clean up.

Mark had bought a new, more powerful weed trimmer with a bush whacking attachment so went out to burn off some of his fury while I made dinner. Unfortunately, his contraption makes so much noise that after about fifteen minutes I had to go outside and scream at him to cease and desist at once before my head exploded. It sounded way too much like logging equipment.

Of course Daisy thinks we only come up here to take her on hikes, so after dinner I changed from tennis shoes to hiking boots and we drove up the road toward Hungry 5 to the power lines. This is the same trail Milo hurt his paw on last time. Mark drove the first few hills of the power lines before parking, this way we were still climbing but not the same hills we have done before. We scared up three deer as we parked, and two turkey vultures. The turkey vultures landed on one of the power poles, so I took several photos of them sitting in stark relief.

Turkey vultures.

Turkey vultures.

They then took off and flew overhead, so I tried some flying shots, which were dismal failures. I still have a lot to learn.

Very poor shot of a flying turkey vulture.

Very poor shot of a flying turkey vulture.

It was very pretty and pleasant hiking along the power lines but way too much uphill for me. Mark said we could walk this trail all the way to Meander Lane and on to Nickerson Valley Rd. Just before we got to Meander Lane, there was a track that branched off to the left and ran along the ridge, so we walked that since it was more level! We spied some metal flashing in the setting sun and went to explore what it was. Turned out to be what had once been a deer feeding station that had a run-in with a black bear!

Bear vs deer feeder.

Bear vs deer feeder.

Yes, people, those ARE claw marks right through the galvanized metal!

I don't want to tangle with this bear.

I don’t want to tangle with this bear.

Obviously this brand of feeder is not made to withstand Michigan black bear.

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We hiked back to the FJ and Mark drove the trail back up to Meander Lane and then out to Hungry 5. While we were out we decided to drive part of the ATV trail between Voyer Lake and Stevens Spring to see the extent of the logging damage. It truly is impossible to believe how many acres they have clear-cut this year. I’ve been coming up here my entire life and have NEVER seen this much clear-cutting before. They even decimated the area where the “spring” of Stevens Spring went under the road! I was surprised by that, figuring that area was wetlands and therefore off limits. We won’t be seeing any marsh marigolds there next year.

Unless you’ve spent a lot of time up here, there’s really no way to describe what has been done in a way that a person can truly understand it. The sad part is, almost EVERYWHERE we drive that still has trees, they are marked with red, yellow or blue paint meaning they will be meeting their demise very soon. I have been told that much of it is trucked to Hillman to drive the wood-burning power plant, which seems like a very costly and inefficient source of power to me.

The days are getting much shorter and it was nearly dark by 8:30. It was early-to-bed for us because Mark wants to get a jumpstart on the garage sales in the morning, so we have to be out the door by 8 a.m.

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10 Responses to Vanishing Northwoods

  1. Bob Zeller says:

    I don’t know what to say, but we as a people are ruining our own planet. 😦


    • The DNR always spins it that this is good for the over-all ecology. That it improves habitat for the wildlife. I believe that the forests do need to be managed, but I don’t see how this clear-cutting is managing anything. They leave such a mess behind, everyplace we go looks like a war zone. Yes, it will re-grow, but it takes approximately 15 years for it to start looking anything like what it did before. I think I could handle it if they were doing it in smaller increments, with wider swaths in-between, but they have seriously denuded just about every acre of state land around us. I feel bad for the “loud people on the corner” because they have state land on two sides, so their place looks really stark now!


  2. Those newer wood burning power plants have to be the worst idea ever foisted on the people of Michigan. I read that they had run out of their allotted timber and were petitioning the state to let them cut more. It doesn’t help that the state is still short on money and is selling timber to pay for running the DNR.

    For birds overhead against the sky, whether perched or flying, you’ll have to go up 2/3 to 1 full stop of exposure compensation. The sky will be “blown out” but the birds will look better.


    • Thanks, Jerry! I’ll try to remember that!

      I was really taken aback when we heard (from several people) that a lot of this wood is going to the power plant. It seems like the forest has become a revenue stream for the state. Our daughter & son-in-law were just up at Tequamenon Falls and said they were logging in the park there and also on Drummond Island. When we were over in Pigeon River last month, the trees in the Pigeon River forest are marked for logging as well.


  3. avian101 says:

    It’s sad to see how we’ve gotten to this point where we have to burn our forests for whatever reasons! You’re right to be angry Amy!


  4. tootlepedal says:

    I am sorry that the loggers are giving you such grief.


  5. Juli Wink says:

    That is really stupid to burn up wood for fuel when we have so many junk tires that could be burnt for fuel, like they used to do in Dundee at the cement factory before it closed up production. They somehow could burn tires and not pollute the air!


    • I don’t get using it for power, either. It seems like a very inefficient source of energy, considering all the gasoline that has to be burned up harvesting it. Where are all the tree huggers when you need them??? If only we had a spotted owl or some sort of endangered newt or something.


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